The Bob Baffert-trained Justify joined an elite list of twelve horses who have won the Holy Grail of American Horseracing when becoming the thirteenth winner of the US Triple Crown at Belmont Park on Saturday. Ninety nine years ago Sir Barton started the ball rolling when proving victorious in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes, since when some of the greatest horses in the history of the sport in North America have followed suit including War Admiral, Secretariat and Seattle Slew.
The son of Scat Daddy was given a peach of a ride by regular pilot Mike Smith, at 52 years of age the oldest man to win the Triple Crown, sending the chestnut colt to the front from the word go and dictating the race at his own pace. Seeing off the challenges of first Vino Rosso and then the ex-Jeremy Noseda inmate Gronkowski the horse who only made his debut at Santa Anita back in February had little trouble keeping his unbeaten record of six victories, coming home by a length and three quarters.
On the previous day it was the turn of Her Majesty the Queen to celebrate an early birthday present as her Call To Mind was steered to a comfortable victory under Javier Castellano in the $400,000 Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup. The William Haggas-trained four-year-old could head to Australia later in the year for the Lexus Melbourne Cup, of which the Queen’s racing advisor John Warren said: “ He’s such a laid-back horse so travelling might be his game and we’ll have a look. Australia is definitely not ruled out.”
The action at Newmarket on Saturday could not match that of Belmont Park but if there was a future star on show at headquarters it could well be John Gosden’s Calyx who took the opening AFT Fluorotec EBF Novice Stakes in the style of a well above average juvenile. The son of Kingman looked green on his debut but still ran out an impressive five length winner and if sent to Royal Ascot for the Coventry Stakes ( 5-1 with Ladbrokes, William Hill and Paddy Power ) should take plenty of beating.